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Cheilocostus speciosus

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Crêpe ginger
In Tortuguero, Costa Rica
In Bukidnon, Philippines
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales
Family: Costaceae
Genus: Cheilocostus
C. speciosus
Binomial name
Cheilocostus speciosus
(J.Konig) C.Specht[2]
  • Costus speciosus (J.Koenig) Sm.
  • Banksea speciosa J.Koenig in A.J.Retzius
  • Hellenia speciosa (J.Koenig) S.R.Dutta

many more

Cheilocostus speciosus, or crêpe ginger, is a species of flowering plant in the family Costaceae. Some botanists have now revived the synonym Hellenia speciosa for this species.[3]

It is native to southeast Asia and surrounding regions, from India to China to Queensland, It is especially common on the Greater Sunda Islands in Indonesia. It is also reportedly naturalized in Puerto Rico, Mauritius, Réunion, Fiji, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, Melanesia, Micronesia, and the West Indies. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental.[4]


Cheilocostus speciosus and other members of the Costaceae differ from gingers by having only one row of spirally arranged leaves. The species reproduces vegetatively by rhizome, and birds disperse the seeds when they feed on the fruits.

This plant is cultivated in South Asia and Southeast Asia for its medicinal uses, and is cultivated elsewhere as an ornamental. In some areas Cheilocostus speciosus is introduced and has become an invasive species.


The habitat where this species is found is roadside ditches and low-lying areas in tropical forests. Flowering starts after onset of the rainy season.

Human relevance

The plant has many historical uses in Ayurveda, where the rhizome has been used to treat fever, rash, asthma, bronchitis, and intestinal worms. It is mentioned in the Kama Sutra as an ingredient in a cosmetic to be used on the eyelashes to increase sexual attractiveness. It is used to treat kidney problems and other urinary problems in Mizo Traditional Medicine. It was used as a traditional medicine by Malays when evil spirits have possessed a body,[5] as well as for the treatment of high fever, smallpox and as a purgative.[6]



  1. ^ Poulsen, A.D.; van Caspel, P. (2020). "Cheilocostus speciosus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2020: e.T158548274A158548791. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-2.RLTS.T158548274A158548791.en. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Cheilocostus speciosus (J.König) C.Specht". The Plant List. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  3. ^ Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, Hellenia speciosa (retrieved 23 September 2020: also Plants of the World Online and IPNI)
  4. ^ Pacific Island Invasive Species Archived July 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Samy, Joseph (2005). Herbs of Malaysia. Times Editions. p. 85. ISBN 9833001793.
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Cheilocostus speciosus
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